Creative Drawing Ideas to Help INSPIRE You to Draw More

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artist's hand holding charcoal working on drawing ideas on paper

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If you love to draw but often have difficulty thinking of good drawing ideas you are not alone! It can be hard to continually think of something you find exciting and want to draw.

So, I’ve put together a list of ideas of what to draw to help give you some inspiration, so the next time you pick up a pencil you’ll know what to do! All of these drawing ideas will also help to expand your abilities, as you work to grow more as a drawing artist.

Drawing Ideas Inspired by PEOPLE

IDEA #1: Start with drawing yourself!

This is a great drawing idea that many famous artists throughout history drew upon (no pun intended :). Rembrandt is perhaps one of the most famous examples of this as he created nearly 80 self portraits (drawings and paintings included).

girl drawing a self portrait for new drawing ideas
When stuck for ideas of what to draw – look no further than yourself!

If you want to get into drawing portraits, then I suggest finding a mirror and drawing your own face. You have a lot more freedom with a self portrait than doing a portrait of someone else. As you don’t have to deal with the pressure of getting a strong likeness and showing your drawing to others while you are just practicing. With a self portrait you can focus on just making a good drawing without any added pressure.

It’s also a good way to warm up before working on other things. You can do this in between projects you might be working on.

IDEA #2: Draw with a friend

get ideas for drawing your friends like the boy and girl in this photo
Draw with your friends (or even draw your friends) for a fun collaborative activity.

Drawing can be a lonesome endeavor, so it’s nice to do it with friends who can keep you company. This is an informal approach that doesn’t really involve intense practice as much as it does being social and hanging out with your friends. If you’re already good at drawing, then this might be good to do with your other artist friends.

You could make it a fun event and pack a picnic to share with your friends as you all draw together. It could also give you the opportunity for all of you to draw a portrait of one another.

IDEA #3: Portrait drawings

Drawing a portrait in real time can be a bit intimidating, as you might feel like you have to “get it right”. If you are unable to find someone to sit for you that you feel comfortable with drawing. You can start with a photo or creating a quick portrait sketch (less detailed sketch) and then work on the more detailed portrait drawing later on.

woman working on portrait drawing idea using charcoal and paper
Find someone you can feel comfortable drawing or start with a photo or a portrait drawing tutorial.

IDEA #4: Draw the human figure

figure drawing ideas on paper
Drawing the human figure can make for excellent study and give you an idea of what to draw on a larger scale or more in-depth works.

Drawing the human figure is one of the most challenging but also exciting areas of drawing. You can take a casual approach and sketch the people that you see on the street, at a coffee shop or any other place where you can see and draw people. Your drawings could range from very fast sketches capturing people in motion, or more carefully observed drawings of people that are in a relatively still pose.

For another idea on what to draw, you could take it to the next level and explore ecorche and anatomy. This will help give you a solid understanding of the structure of the human body. Along with, build your confidence a great deal when it comes to drawing people.

IDEA #5: Ideas for drawing hands

different hand drawing ideas on paper
Coming up with hand drawing ideas will HELP YOU sooo much, as hands are particularly tricky to draw… It’s good to mix in some really difficult subjects into the hat when looking for drawing ideas − just don’t get discouraged by them being tougher, embrace the challenge bit by bit.

Hands are surprisingly difficult to draw realistically, however there are several hand drawing techniques that can help to make drawing them easier. Drawing hands (whether they’re your own or someone else’s) provides excellent practice for you to further develop your drawing skills. If you are a beginner, you can start with a simple hand pose that you feel comfortable with.

You could draw your own hand or ask for a friend to pose for you. If it isn’t easy to find someone to model their hand for you, you could go to a coffee shop and observe people’s hands in resting position. There are also many great hand drawings done by excellent draughtsmen that you could look at and copy to learn from.

Looking at OBJECTS for Ideas of What to Draw

IDEA #6: Drawing objects around the house

different household objects on a table for drawing ideas
There are a lot of ideas on drawing right under our noses. Start making note of items around you that would make for useful drawing idea inspiration.

We are all almost always surrounded by things whether at home or on the go! Often the most ordinary objects can become quite remarkable and give you an idea what to draw, once you start to observe them. Just take a look around you and try to find something that catches your eye.

Another thought – is to try and not focus on what the object is, but rather consider the light and dark values that are present, the composition, and sense of space. When you pay attention to the abstract elements of the subject it will make the subject turn from ordinary to extraordinary.

IDEA #7: Find subjects that pose a challenge…

When looking for an idea on what to draw, one of the best things you can do is challenge yourself. Look for something odd perhaps or super intricate – you grow muscle by increasing reps or weights… Similar concept here!

Draw something that is a big challenge and almost scares you a little bit to take on. Focus on closely studying and observing what you draw and you will surprise yourself with what you can do. Pick something that is complex or make a much larger drawing than you usually do. It is good to go outside of your comfort zones ones in a while because you will learn a great deal from the experience. And, you will likely end up with a drawing that you are proud of!

IDEA #8: Choose objects with interesting lighting (clear light and shadow)

Practice how to create clear light and shadow (tonal values) by choosing subject that have extreme examples of it. Will help you as you progress to create more subtle shadows and highlights later on.

Light changes everything, so look around your space for any objects that are lit up by a bright light source of some kind. Try to find darker areas where you can shine a spotlight onto your subject and create some dramatic lighting. It is best to draw in a dimly lit room with only one light source. You could also use natural lighting from a window – just make sure that you also have strong shadows.

Light and shadow is one of the most important elements in art. So finding subject matter around light and shadow will help you to improve your painting. Leonardo da Vinci continually observed and studied how light and shadows interact with objects and made studies based off of his observations. You can see one of his light and shadow drapery studies in the image above.

IDEA #9: Get close up!

ideas for drawing of an eye close up with a white pencil ready to go
Some of the most compelling ideas for drawing can come from getting real detailed and close up with the object you draw.

It is good to draw things close up from time to time and get into the nitty gritty of what you see. This gives you the opportunity to very carefully observe all of the shifts and changes you see along the contour of your subject. At the same time, be careful not to loose sight of the big picture and the large light and dark value structure of the subject. This can be difficult to do when you are creating a more detailed drawing.

For this drawing idea, use a graphite pencil and a piece of paper. Make sure your drawing equipment is sharpened and ready to go!

Begin with drawing what you see as accurately as possible. Look at the subject carefully, and draw exactly what you see on its surface. You can move yourself closer or farther away from the subject matter.

Observe how smooth or rough the surface is. Look at where shadows are located, and where details begin to emerge from a larger shadow area.

IDEA #10: Work the angles

Approach something from an entirely different angle or view than you usually do. For example if you typically draw something at eye level, then put it on the ground so that you are viewing it from higher up. Or, you yourself can sit on the ground and view it from bottom up. You can play around with it!

This is an interesting approach that helps artists gain better understanding of an object, especially if you’re doing it over and over again. By drawing the same thing from different angles/views, you’ll discover new things about the object that you might not have known before.

Very often, you become more and more interested in the subject the more you draw it! You may even decide to create a series of drawings out of it 🙂

Drawing Ideas from Reference (Photos)

Keep track of drawing reference ideas that inspire you.

Reference materials for drawing can be photo references or drawings done by others. These can be useful tools for creating good drawing ideas. They can help you to imagine what kinds of drawings you want to make as well as realize the direction you wish to go as an artist.

References can help to inspire you just as much as they will give you good drawing ideas!

IDEA #11: Take reference photos

I am not a huge fan of drawing (or painting) from photographs. However, I do think that having a reference image library, can serve a purpose and provide some very good ideas on drawing!

Take a reference photo of something you want to draw so that you can observe/study it later. You can also take a look at my reference image library, for some helpful ideas of what to draw.

Look through some of your own favorite images on your phone or computer and choose some to use for your next drawing projects. Find something that has strong light and dark values without a lot of detail. This will allow you to take more liberties with the drawing and not be too tied to looking at it constantly.

When using photographs as reference material you do not need to copy verbatim from the photograph. This will only detract from the drawing in the end. As it will look like it was copied from a photograph instead of standing on its own.

IDEA #12: Copy other people’s drawings (master copy drawings)

Creating master copy drawings is a great way to develop your drawing skills and be a part of a tradition in art history – as many of the great masters have copied other great masters!

Copying drawings from master artists is a fun idea for drawing, that can also help you develop new skills at the same time!

It is always a good idea to look at drawings by artists you admire. Whose work is a step or two ahead of your own. There is a wealth of information and lessons you can learn through the process of simply copying their work! Pay attention to the delicacy in the contours of the drawing you’re copying. As well as to how the thickness of the lines change at different points in the drawing.

Leonardo da Vinci is a great artist to look at for drawings as well as Ingres and many others. It is most important however to copy drawings that make you excited to draw from.

Drawing ideas found in repetition!

You’ll notice if you look at great artists throughout history, they have a habit of creating multiple drawings (paintings) of the same subject.

Draw the same thing again and again!

Drawing the same subject over and over again may sound boring at first, but it can be very exciting! Just take a look at the drawing by Leonardo da Vinci above. Notice how he drew many different kinds of cats over and over again!

Drawing something over and over again will help you to discover new ideas as well as develop more skills and control with your drawing materials. I suggest starting off slowly with this. Start practicing drawing the same thing for an hour or so, then stop before you get tired of it. You do not need to complete it in one go! Do small increments instead.

Drawing Ideas Found in Nature

IDEA #14: Flower drawing ideas

Leonardo Da Vinci , Flower Study. There are so many great flower drawing ideas to take inspiration from. Visit a garden, a florist shop or take a look at the many botanical drawings Leonardo da Vinci made.

Flowers are an incredible subject to draw. They force you to closely observe what you draw because of the very intricate forms they have. They also require you to work with a certain degree of speed. As they can potentially start to wilt quickly (if they are real picked flowers).

ideas for drawing a flowers sketch
Work on drawing flowers together in different arrangements for compelling drawings.

You can go to your garden to pick flowers or get some from your local store store. If you are worried of your flowers dying before you complete your drawing you could use some artificial flowers instead! 🙂

You don’t need to limit yourself to just drawing flowers. You could venture into drawing any kinds of plants you find interesting. All botanical material can give you some rich drawing ideas.

IDEA #15: Landscape drawing (ideas to get you started)

landscape drawing idea on paper
If you are able to get outside and draw you should! If not, there are so many inspiring images and drawing ideas from other artist’s drawings to give you amble landscape drawing material.

Landscapes provide you with many drawing idea opportunities. Find a landscape to draw near where you live. If you live in the city, then draw your neighborhood or city skyline. There are many wonderful examples of landscape drawings made by other artists to provide you with some ideas and inspiration.

Focus less on the details and more on getting the values of your drawing right with a good, easy landscape drawing tutorial.

Landscape drawing doesn’t require the same level of precision as some other subjects do. Therefore, you can find great drawing ideas for beginners with landscapes. However, you can also find very challenging landscape drawing motifs – for some hard drawing ideas when you need a challenge!

IDEA #16: Cloud drawing ideas

a hand drawing clouds in notebook
Use this how to draw clouds tutorial for inspiration and cloud drawing ideas.

There are not many drawing subjects that are more therapeutic to draw than clouds. Due to their ever changing nature, they are wonderful to help you work on creating quick sketches. This will allow you to try and quickly capture what you see. However, you can also use your imagination along with observation − here is a cloud drawing tutorial to get you started!

Ideas Found in Drawing Regularly

girl drawing with pencil and paper working on new drawing ideas
Create for yourself a drawing habit that can help you stay consistent.

One of the best ways to continue to develop and be inspired with good drawing ideas, is to draw regularly. The more you start making sketching a habit and a part of your daily life. The better your drawings and the ideas come up with will become! You will naturally start to think of exciting drawing projects and work towards building a body of work.


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    Hello! I'm Elisabeth Larson Koehler

    Art Studio Life exists for you to be able to stay inspired, learn, and improve your skills.

    Elisabeth Larson Koehler creator of art studio life
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    18 thoughts on “Creative Drawing Ideas to Help INSPIRE You to Draw More”

    1. Catherine Kirkwood

      Thankyou so much Elizabeth for sharing your tips on helping choose a subject to get started as I’ve been really struggling with that lately.

    2. Warren Petherbridge

      What a coincidence, I have been deliberating about just drawing until I get my Cataracts fixed. I think they have interfered with my colour mixing inthat it is like permenantly squinting hence the washed out colours. Tis is just what i need to start drawing my granddaughters until my sight improves thanks Elisabeth you are a great help.

      1. Hi Warren! That is really great to hear – yes I think drawing until your cataracts are fixed would be a great idea. It will keep your skills fresh while also allowing you to start drawing your granddaughter. Am so glad that this was helpful. I send many good wishes your way and hope that all goes well with your eyes and cataract surgery!

    3. Great advice! I have noticed how far off my measurements get while i try to paint,should at least warm up every day with some drawing.


      I haven’t been drawing as much as I should. After reading this article, I think I’ll get back into drawing a little more. That might be why some of my painting haven’t been as crisp, shadowing. Thank you. Michael.

    5. Thanks for all the excellent ideas. I’m currently at home due to illness and when in the mood I’ll sit and draw for hours,n but like you have said it’s sometimes hard to find subjects to draw. So once again thank you for all your ideas and input.

    6. What a grand gift for this particular “drought” of sunshine and glue sky! Not quite out of this tremendous Winter storm yet, Mixing colors is frustrating! My box of sketching “tools” beckoned me yesterday as they sat in their Birch Bark box on the window ledge. I ignored them as I studied my Alpine peeks. Having read your message as the heavy snow equipment moves outside at 6 this morning: I realize I have Cosmic Permission to shift to sketching each day as my “creative art” time until there is better natural lighting to finish the view of the 1980 Alpine Gondola Pass.

      1. So lovely to hear from you here Patricia! 🙂 Mixing colors can indeed be frustrating at times! How wonderful that your box of sketching tools called you 🙂 That is a great idea to do some sketching while the light is a little darker – that way you don’t have to worry so much about color! Look forward to seeing your alpine painting when it is done though!

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